1. The Diary of A Young Girl
Anne Frank lived for just less than 16 years but became an icon and inspiration for countless girls and boys who lived after her. Of Jewish origin, Anne Frank was a victim of the Holocaust and she kept a secret diary of her life in hiding between 1942 and 1944 during the Nazi Occupation of Netherlands. Born in Frankfurt she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, where she and her family hid in a secret room from the Nazis, in the place where her father worked. They were however arrested after two years and perished in the concentration camps. Anne Frank’s diary which was published posthumously is a beautiful work full of depth and intelligence that to this day is one of the most read books in the world.
This short novel written by Nobel Prize winner Herman Hesse dips into Indian philosophy to construct a beautiful story of a prince who gives up his wealth and power to seek enlightenment. Loosely inspired by the tale of Gautama Buddha, Hesse creates Siddhartha as a contemporary of the Buddha. Full of poetry and written in a simple lyrical style, Siddhartha has inspired many revolutionary minds during the 60s and much after. A book of simplicity, moving poetry and great wisdom- this is a book that deserves to be in every book shelf.
3. The Trial
Perhaps one of the most influential novels ever written in the language, this short novel by Czech-German writer Franz Kafka is a true tour-de-force. A scathing attack on bureaucracy, a darkly funny take on the absurdity of life in the modern times, a surreal story that is nightmarish in its logic and setting- The Trial is many things and so much more. The book that made the word Kafkaesque an adjective for absurd universes ruled by bureaucracy with no apparent exit, The Trial is a story that is sure to change the life of every reader who picks it up. A story that is truly timeless.
A tribute to childhood and a biting take on consumerist modern culture Momo was published in 1973 by renowned German writer Michael Ende. A lovely story that reminds us of what we lose when we forget to profit of the time we have in this world and instead run after greater efficiency and accumulation of wealth, Momo is a story for every adult, disguised as a story for children.
5. The Reader
In the late 1950s, 15-year-old West German Michael Berg finds himself in a passionate but secret love affair with a woman who is over 20 years his senior, leaving him confused yet enthralled. As a law student several years later, he is observing a trial when he realizes that the woman in the dock is his former lover. But the woman on trial is a very different person to the one he thought he knew. This riveting novel by Bernhard Schlink also became a hit movie featuring Kate Winslet who won an Oscar for her performance.